How to Wipe Sensitive Files from Mac OS X

wipe sensitive filesMac OS X has been designed with advanced features and technologies to constantly monitor and update your Mac. However, with the free availability of an OS X Mavericks upgrade, security has become a challenge. With organizations which use Mac for running their business, security is an ever-increasing concern. Issues like virus attacks, unauthorized access, and mishandling of such devices cause some serious concern. In addition, issues like stolen systems could prove to be a nightmare if the system contains some confidential data.

In such a situation it becomes very important to ensure data safety. You can avoid such security threats by securely erasing files from Mac that contains confidential or sensitive information. For example, you can securely delete any unused financial or medical information from a system. In addition, you can discard or delete data that are no longer required from the external or portable drive. 

Need to Wipe Sensitive Files

We deal with different kinds of data on a daily basis. Data in the form of documents, audios, photos, videos, etc. can be found on any hard drive. Most of such data are personal to the user, which is not intended to be shared with anyone else. Any personal or confidential data are stored with some additional level of protection like encryption. This ensures data safety and its protection from any unauthorized user. Such data can remain on our computer for a longer time and at times we can forget about it. However, we are not as cautious when we do not use the hard drive or when the hard drive becomes old. In most of such cases, we plan to sell the old hard drive or even a system. At that time, we fail to realize that the data that might be already present in the hard drive could be easily misused. Even if we have completely formatted or deleted the data, we cannot assure that the data that was present earlier cannot be accessed. With the advancement in technology and the presence of so many data recovery software has made this possible. Today, it is very easy to recover deleted data from a formatted hard drive through any file recovery software. Thus, it is not considered to be a safe option.

However, while working with Mac, there are several ways that can help you in achieving data safety. In order to overcome the limitations of formatting, you can use the wiping mechanism to permanently delete or wipe confidential files from Mac based systems. Wiping is a much more advanced and safe option to wipe away all the confidential data from the hard drive without having a slightest chance of recovery. File Removal File removal is an easy process on Mac based systems. Deleting a file moves it to the Trash. You can then delete all the files from the Trash by clicking the Finder->Empty Trash. However, as mentioned earlier, you can easily recover files deleted in this manner. Secure file Removal With Mac, you have also an option to securely delete data including confidential or protected information. However, the process is quite similar to the normal file removal process as mentioned above. You can securely delete the files from Trash by clicking the Finder->Secure Empty Trash. Files deleted in this manner cannot be recovered.


How Normal File Removal is different from Secure File Removal

Theoretically, File Removal and Secure File Removal sound very similar; however, there are a lot of differences technically. A normal File Removal process just removes the file entry from the directory. However, the file still remains on the hard disk. In case of Secure Empty Trash, Mac OS X performs a series of passes to ensure complete removal of the file. The Secure Empty Trash command makes a series of seven different passes. Each pass writes some random information to the hard disk making it completely clean. Such a mechanism is strongly supported by Apple, as the standards used in Secure File Removal matches with the security standards of United States Department of Defense. This secure removal operation permanently deletes the file from system beyond the scope of recovery. Note: The data can be retrieved only if they have been backed up using the Apple’s Time Machine option or any other backup mechanism. Securely erasing free space There are times when you might have already deleted some of the files from Mac. However, you need to ensure that the deleted files cannot be recovered in any case. In order to ensure this, you need to securely erase the free disk space. This can be done by following the below mentioned steps.

  1. Open Applications
  2. Select ‘Utilities’ and double-click ‘Disk Utility’
  3. Select the Volume to be securely deleted
  4. Click the ‘Erase’ tab
  5. In the appeared dialog box, select any of the three options: zero-out, 7-pass      erase, and 35-pass erase
  6. Select a desired option and click the ‘Erase Free Space’ button

Note: In order to remove any chance of data recovery, select the 7-pass or 35-pass deletion option. However, it is always good to use a professional tool to ensure complete deletion of confidential data. Stellar Wipe Mac is a highly useful tool to wipe sensitive data from systems based on Mac OS X. It makes use of a powerful wiping algorithm to ensure a permanent deletion of data.

1 Comment(s)

  1. I totally agree with the point that it is an excellent utility to wipe away the hard drive data permanently with its powerful algorithms.

    Sarah | Oct 29, 2014 | Reply

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